A Kansas City landscape gets a makeover
Story by Michelle Mastro | Photography by Matt Kocourek
With spring in full swing, attentions slowly turn to transforming a home’s front or backyard into a green oasis. Helping homeowners achieve the exact look they’re going for, landscaper, Tom Hall of Rosehill Gardens, knows all the tricks of the trade. The home garden he created for this Kansas City abode is supposed to be Colorado inspired, but in actuality much of the vegetation and look hail from the Pacific Northwest.
“I lived in Seattle for years, so actually what I did was take the concept they wanted and gave it a Pacific Northwest feel, which is kind of a Colorado look,” he explains. When most people think of Colorado, they think of lush evergreens, boulders, and spruce, but Washington has much of the same, just in smaller sizes. The front and backyard in which Tom was working had limited space, so he knew he had to adapt the vibe the homeowners wanted into something doable for the home.
Colorado Blue Spruce was out, Riverside Serbian Spruce was in. He selected lavender, catnip, blue-eyed grass, and other perennials that would bloom from spring late into early fall. In the backyard, the spruce, boulders, and flowers meander along the sides of the yard, leaving the whole center open. Plus, the free flow of plants along the perimeter of the property allowed for additional privacy. “The owners kind of felt like they were in a fish bowl, having a backyard that didn’t hide them from any neighbor’s view. I wanted the family to enjoy the backyard and not feel like they are on view all the time.”
First thing Tom did, while accessing the property was to walk around to see how the yards looked in person. “Pictures don’t always reveal everything, and I wanted to see the property firsthand,” he says. He selected plants that do well in Kansas. Instead of heather, he opted for little blue-eyed grass. “It’s like a mass planting or wildflower that blooms in mass. That was the look I was after.”
The plant also worked well with the creek bed he installed alongside the boulders to take care of the water that always drained away near the edges of the property. “When you do a landscape like that, you want to think about irrigation to accommodate new landscape design. Before, being a square space, the water would pool into the corners, but with my new designs, the flowers and plants love waterways, and the yards can be more self-sustaining.”
The wandering creek, rounded boulders, and curved shapes of the flower beds also worked a unique juxtaposition with the home. “The house itself is square with straight lines, so to soften it, I put in the meandering pathways and streams to make you want to meander your way around the landscape.” Tom loves being outdoors himself, and to help beckon the home’s occupants to the outside, he was sure to make the space as inviting as possible. The homeowners tasked Tom with building the patio areas as well, so he was sure to create a space for entertaining guests. “They wanted a fire pit to roast marshmallows and big boulders for the kids to jump off of while playing.”
It’s not only his creativity and years of experience that made the yards beautiful. Tom has lived in Boston, Houston, and Seattle. “I have seen a lot of different kinds of landscapes. Sometimes people get locked into a certain type of setting and that can limit them doing this kind of work. Wherever I go somewhere new, I look at the landscapes and talk to people about their choice of plants. Because I want to know.” Designing outdoor spaces is his passion. “I tell clients not to rely on big box stores where they get told what they want to hear. Instead, get a good budget in mind, think about what you want, and then let the experts help you.”